With the online tracking scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica that resulted in Mark Zuckerberg testifying to Congress back in April, our CTO, Shawn McCabe, recorded this Tech Talk video to talk about online tracking and how it is used. He also offers some ways you can restrict some of the tracking that goes on.
About this video
Facebook is used by so many people mainly just to connect to friends, family, and others. It's all free to use which enables people to get in easily, but in exchange for this free service you are subjected to targeted advertising. However, while this alone isn't a big deal, the information that Facebook collects is not only about showing you ads.
They encourages you to fill out a lot of personal information to complete your personal profile on Facebook, however, the scope of tracking isn't limited to the Facebook social platform. They implement a cookie in your browser and use other integrated methods that follows your browsing history throughout the internet, eventually creating a very robust profile about who you are. Even if you don't use Facebook, they attempt to maintain a profile about you using your unique IP address, then if you make an account they bring it all together.
On one hand, Facebook uses this information to show you ads, but on the other hand they also provide your information out to people who then do advertising and studies for commercial or academic/scientific reasons. The rules can be somewhat vague which is where the recent problems came in involving Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica said they were using the data for academic means but it was really more for political targeting and marketing, which is a big red flag.
The takeaway is this, when you're using a service like Facebook, it's important for you to know what you're doing and how they use your data. If you're not comfortable giving Facebook all this information, you really just shouldn't use it.